LETTER – Residential planners in the Valley have neglected single-income individuals

Dear editor,

I read with interest your recent report of the results of our 2020 local housing assessment (Assessment illustrates need for affordable housing in Courtenay, Page 24, June 17 Record). I am relatively new to the Valley, and I have to concur that I find rental and real estate rates here grossly unaffordable.

I was especially interested to read about the considerable number of single-person households in this area. According to Statistics Canada, up to 40 per cent of Comox, Courtenay and Comox Valley residents (over 15) are not married and not living common-law. Even if one eliminates 15-18-year-olds from the figure, the percentage of single-income households in this region is high, and those residents no doubt subsist on one income.

The problem is that old-school government formulae for housing affordability is based on two incomes, and as such they omit single renters and home buyers (and this includes the many single retired or senior residents, as well as single-income mothers).

This is no longer the 1970s, where everyone lives in a couple or family. Furthermore, recent reports of new local developments targeted at “middle income” residents earning $48,000 to $74,000 per annum are confounding. What percentage of singles (or the growing single retired persons sector) in the Valley earn $74,000 per annum?

So who in our local governments is endorsing housing developments targeted primarily at a well-off double-income stereotype? And is it appropriate for the City to approve housing (inevitably built for hefty developer profits) designed for wealthy couples who have sold houses in inflated markets and moved here? What about the other nearly 40 per cent of the population?

There is something very amiss here. It seems residential planners in the Valley have neglected single income individuals – which is frankly discriminatory. I have already lived in other communities where there are only two choices – live in segregated poverty housing in noisy, low-income parts of town, or in serene million-dollar housing with nothing in between. Is this the vision the City has for the Comox Valley? Something needs to change.

Karen Hodgson,

Comox

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